There was plenty of evidence to indicate that Jim Leyland would be back to manage the Detroit Tigers for the 2013 season.
That news became official this morning.
The Tigers announced today that Jim Leyland will return to manage the team in 2013 after leading them to their second World Series berth in seven seasons.
“Jim is as fine a manager as there is in baseball,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a news release. “He has done a fantastic job for the organization and we are thrilled to have him back managing the Tigers in 2013.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jim and his ability to lead our club on the field. I am confident that you will not find a harder working or better prepared manager in our game.”
Leyland is excited to be back.
“Detroit is a tremendous baseball town and I couldn’t dream of a better place to manage,” Leyland said. “The support of Mr. Ilitch and Dave is second to none and gives this club an opportunity to win every year. Tigers fans and the people of Michigan have supported us so well during my time here. I can’t even begin to express how much that means to me.”
This seemed to be the likely outcome to this story even though Leyland managed the entire season without a contract beyond 2012. Leyland said earlier this month that “everyone’s known I want to manage.”
Less than an hour after the Tigers wrapped up a sweep of the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, general manager Dave Dombrowski indicated that the decision to return was Leyland’s alone.
“Jim Leyland is welcome back here,” Dombrowski said while standing in a hallway near Leyland’s office in the Tigers clubhouse. “He knows that. He’s in a situation where we want him back, and I’m sure that he wants to come back. … But there’s a time and a place for that. It’s not right now.”
Leyland seemed to indicate Sunday night that he would return even while saying that he wasn’t sure he would be back.
“I think that since 2006 we’ve changed the culture around here,” Leyland said. “We’ve been in two World Series in the last seven years. That’s not bad. I just want to wait for the right time.”
Leyland is 607-528 (.535) in seven seasons with the Tigers, who have won two Central Division titles, made the playoffs three times and played in two World Series during his tenure. In addition to posteason berths in 2006, 2011 and 2012, the Tigers also played in a tiebreaker game in 2009 after the Tigers and Minnesota Twins had identical records after 162 games.
Leyland is 1,676-1,659 in 21 seasons as a manager in the big leagues, including 11 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, two with the Florida Marlins and one with the Colorado Rockies. He won a World Series title in 1997 with the Marlins.
Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander spoke Sunday night as if Leyland’s return was a done deal.
“I, for one, am extremely glad he’s coming back,” Verlander said. “I love playing for him. It’s an honor. In my opinion, he’s going to be a Hall of Fame manager. Being able to play for a guy like that, not a lot of people get to say they did.”
The Tigers also announced that all Leyland’s coaches would return in 2013. That includes Toby Harrah as the team’s assistant hitting coach, a role he moved into during the 2012 season.